The love story of Gabo and Trisha in Labyu with an Accent is a surefire formula for a box-office win, Coco Martin and Jodi Sta. Maria’s entry to the ongoing Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) 2022. Why not?
Martin had a successful ABS-CBN’s longest-running action-drama on television and via online platforms–FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano and Sta. Maria’s highly acclaimed victory at the recently concluded Asian Academy Creative Awards’ best actress recognition for The Broken Marriage Vow. Both stars’ successes got extended and translated into the flick’s performance in the festival’s first two days since its opening on December 25. Their movie came in fourth in the unofficial box-office results, according to MMFF.
Labyu with an Accent is about Gabo and Trisha, who come from different backgrounds: Trisha spent 20 years living in the US, while Gabo has been working various odd jobs to make ends meet in the Philippines. The two cross paths when Sta. Maria’s character returns to the country, heartbroken.
Even if Gabo has an endearing personality, he’s still not the type Trisha’s parents would approve of as the husband of their only daughter. That’s the “main conflict” of the story. Fast-forward, Gabo followed Trisha to the US. What is this reminiscent of a Lea Salonga-Aga Muhlach hit romance drama film, Sana Maulit Muli (1995)? Maybe yes, maybe not. However, it reflected some similarities.
In the first few minutes of Gabo and Trisha’s interaction in the Philippines, it promises ‘kilig’ but didn’t get to sustain it. Sadly, it didn’t carry through when the two main characters had to journey together in the US. The dynamics in their relationship and the couple’s struggles became such a drag that it kept repeating a resolvable issue.
What added to the conflict was the inability of Gabo’s relatives (who are US residents) to help the two while they both tried to navigate living in together in the Land of Milk and Honey. The inclusion of the former cast of FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano into the flick failed to advance the storytelling. Most of the characters were one-dimensional. It looked like the script got stretched to accommodate all the stars included in the movie.
In all fairness to Martin, he has improved a lot in terms of directing, but the film still needed to tighten some loose ends.
Gabo’s machismo–that sense of being “manly” and self-reliant, a concept associated with “a strong sense of masculine pride or an exaggerated masculinity” is already a passe mindset. Love is no longer defined as to wears the pants in a relationship. Come on–we are already in 2022.
To think, Gabo, being exposed to how hard life is back in the Philippines–expectedly that by the time or even before flying to the US–he’s got the idea that life is much more challenging in a foreign land. The US drama between Gabo and Trisha is a drag. It seemed an endless cycle of denial about the reality that the US is not the Philippines. The actors or characters linked to both Gabo and Trisha’s characters were unnecessary. The story could still move forward with or without them in the script.
The only saving grace for the film is the fact that Martin and Sta. Maria can still make it to the Top Four in the box-office returns because of their fanbases. That’s for sure.
If you are the type of moviegoer who is into mushy moments, Labyu with an Accent is for you. It’s still showing during the MMFF 2022 run.